Life would be great if everything just flowed to you with simplicity? That you experienced ease and joy as you live out your purpose day to day, unshaken by circumstances and events happening in the world? Yet there always seems to be something that comes in to shake things up (Mr. Murphy, perhaps?), knocks you off your feet, and makes you question why you’re dreaming big and doing the things you’re doing. It can be frustrating feeling like you’re living the same day over and over again, expecting a different result but feeling like you’re shooting in the dark when it comes to making significant progress forward. You’re not alone feeling this way, and it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to focus your energy to really elicit change.
There’s an old African proverb that says, “Walk as far as you can see, and when you get there you’ll be able to see further.” This may seem the very opposite of having clear outcomes and a well thought out plan. So what allows me to follow this principle, and still achieve massive results? It all rests on the systems I have in place.
Think about this in context of sports. When it comes to Olympic athletes, every single Olympian has the exact same goal — to win a gold medal. Is there a single Olympian that says, “I’m just here for the party!” or “I’m good with bronze.” Every single athlete wants that gold medal. So if everyone has the same goal, what determines who actually gets it? The systems. Having world class systems for their mental exercises and mental fortitude, nutrition, sleep, training, recovery — all of these systems are critical when it comes to performance, especially in high pressure situations when it matters the most. When you have a system that allows you to change time zones, change your equipment, change your mindset, change your vehicles and still get consistent world class results, you’re going to be a champion. And while this is true in sports, it is also true across every area of our life.
So, my question for you as you enter into the remainder of the year is who do you want to become in the next year? What’s your win? See, you might miss a specific goal, but you can still achieve your “win” when you have a world class system that allows you to be resourceful. Here are four key principles I use to create world class systems across every area of my life:
1. Create a strong framework
A strong framework is made up of both hard and soft lines — rigidity to withhold the structure, and flexibility to allow for the ebbs and changes of everyday life. A strong framework must be dynamic in order to hold up against the pressures of your day to day schedule while also being reliable and dependable enough to keep you focused and on track.
2. Leveraging the Rule of 168
The only equalizing factor across the board is time — we all have 168 hours in our week, period. No matter what you do you can’t buy more time…so the question is, how are you spending your 168 hours? Who you want to become by the end of your week? By the end of the quarter? By the end of this year? Nothing will happen on a large scale unless it’s scheduled in your 168 hours. For every goal you set, also ask yourself, “What is my win?” Your goal may be to exercise consistently. What is your win for exercising? Perhaps it’s getting the gold in your sport, or perhaps it’s being able to exert yourself physically while experiencing joyful activity. You can achieve your goal only one way; but you can achieve your “win” a number of different ways — through jogging, swimming, playing tennis, etc. The goal chooses the activity, and the system creates the structure that allows you to do that. When you plan out your 168 hours and need to move something on your calendar, you know exactly where that “exercise” time can be moved to in order to maintain harmony and still reach your goals.
3. Create a world class calendar that supports ALL of your identities and roles
Too often our calendars are filled with tasks, meetings, and appointments — countless “doing” items. The problem with this is when you don’t schedule in time to BE and recharge your batteries, or to spend quality time with your spouse or children or community, or time to sleep, your days get filled with tasks and not with the things that fill you up and support who you are becoming. If you desire to be an amazing and loving spouse, or an awesome parent, where is that reflected on your calendar? Where is your time for adventure? You must honor your calendar in order to master time, otherwise you will become a slave to it. To breathe new life into your calendar, schedule your 168 hours, connect the subject line to your purpose, and make your “appointments” enjoyable. I have created a world-class calendar system that regardless of what I commit to on my calendar, the subject line obviously supports my sense of adventure or the strength of my purpose. Everything fills me up, and I serve from a place of alignment rather than from a crossing off a long list of to-do’s.
4. Make the rules easy to win, and keep a scorecard
In the game of life, we tend to make the rules really hard to win. We’re trained to aim for perfection rather than precision, even though perfection is very rarely attainable. How can you make the rules easy to win in your life? Rather than aiming for perfection, how can you focus on taking persistent and consistent action towards your goals in a timeframe that is realistic for you? And, most importantly, remember to measure your progress and keep a scorecard. Once you define your wins, and you make the rules easy to win, then the game of life becomes fun and your scorecard becomes something to celebrate.
So, who do you want to become by next year? Do you have world class systems in place to be able to execute and make that happen, regardless of any storms society throws at you? Do you have the confidence you’ll be able to juke and jive and handle any curveballs that are thrown your way? Become clear on your outcomes and create a strong framework, leverage the rule of 168, and create a world class calendar that supports the entirety of who you want to become. When you make the rules easy to win and show up with persistence and consistency, your scorecard is going to remind you how far you’ve come. Remember, you get to choose the quality of your life. This doesn’t mean life will always be easy, or once you have a solid system in place you’ll never struggle again. However, when you have a strong system in place that allows you to win the majority of the time, you will have challenging moments, but you won’t remain in suffering. I guarantee you if you write out your goals, and then write out your wins you are going to have two different sets of answers. One is not better than the other, but it learn how to leverage them both on your scorecard. I will go to my grave with more things to do than I have time for, but when my time comes I guarantee you I will look back on my life and know it’s been a heck of a ride. Not because I got everything done, but because I made decisions that turned me into the man I became — and the most important things, the things that truly matter, are the ones that got done.